Category Archives: Rabbit Genetics

Let’s Joke About Rabbit Penis

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended for good laughs.

Much has been written about show rabbits stricken by the split penis phenomenon. At this point, nothing that happens around “selective” bred animals will ever surprise me any more. It is not surprising to me that pet animals that are “made” suffer from a wide range of diseases, conditions and probably possess supernatural powers.

Whenever someone tells me about split penis, the image of a fork appears on my mind. Just imagine it right now a dick that splits two ways. How interesting, right? Still cannot get a clear image? What about thinking of a snake sticking out its tongue like this one….

And then there is the receiving end of the penis – the vagina followed by the uterus. For the benefit of those who do not know, does (female rabbits) have a fork uterus like this one…

So imagine the snake’s head fitting perfectly at the “Vaginal end” and then it starts to stick out its fork tongue before unloading all the “swimmers” into both branches of the forked uterus. That way, you will definitely get a doe fully filled up and in no time, your rabbit venture’s profit will shoot up the roof!

Don’t you feel stupid “culling” all the bucks with split penis?

Did you just get the revelation as to why your Hollands are not producing at all?

Perhaps you are culling the wrong bucks and with just one strong intact penis, it can only inseminate one part of the uterus or none at all.

What if split penis is the actual desired trait in rabbits?

The correct answers my friend, lies only within the boundaries of your imagination….

If you ask me, I think I might have written an entire load of rubbish to entertain myself and patronizing the wandering mind. I am on the hunt for a buck with a penis that splits (like a fork) just like the snake’s tongue above to help me increase the number of kits.

And my advice for you, is to find out how an actual split penis looks like and I do not mean in your pants….

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Filed under Rabbit Genetics, Thoughts

Holland Lop & Heat Tolerance

WARNING: Unverified Opinions Blog Content. Opinions expressed here is based on author’s observation and experience reader’s discretion needed.

During my younger days, I read a lot about dogs and I am a sucker for short snout/muzzle (or in short, Brachycephalic) dogs because they are cute and captivating. Recently I have read about airlines banning certain dogs from being allowed on board airplanes due to the many problems attributed to their short snout/muzzle.

One attribute that captured my attention recently is the heat tolerance in Brachycephalic dogs (reference article). Apparently, they are prone to overheating (heatstroke, collapse & death) . Dogs as we know, regulate body temperature through footpads but mostly through panting.

How does all these translates to rabbits?

Rabbits regulate body temperature through their ears where the major blood vessels are located. In extreme heat, rabbits can be seen panting (head banging) with moisture around their mouth, nose and when it gets bad, they lick their front feet at the region around the ankles in attempt to cool themselves down through moisture on the major blood vessels in that area. How many of you noticed matted fur with saliva stains on your rabbit’s front paws?

As  you can see, both dogs and rabbits do not sweat like how we humans do.

So is Holland Lop less heat tolerable compared to breeds like the Mini Rex?

I personally believe so because through my observation and experience, lop ear rabbits with regular snout/muzzle tend to thrive better than the Holland Lop in Malaysia. Being prey animal at the lower realm of the food chain, rabbits are highly adaptable and the most obvious physical change from one generation to the next in Holland Lop under the Malaysia weather is their ear length and overall flesh condition. The rule of thumb is, larger surface area to volume ratio in smaller animal means higher efficiency in losing and gaining heat.

I have written about “selective” breeding before and not to repeat myself, it means that we breed to retain the physical characteristics that is desirable which are clearly specified in a “standard” of some sort. I have not done extensive study or research on this but if I would to apply what happens to Brachycephalic dogs the same way I would apply on Holland Lop rabbits, there is indeed one very obvious similarity between the two – change in skull structure/shape.

I recently came across a sketch picture of a rabbit skull done by Isa Cunanan. At press time, I have yet to receive any confirmation if I could use her sketch for a graphical morph to illustrate the point I would like to put forth. The morphing process helps in my opinion in explaining how the rabbit skull changes and also explain probably how the malocclusion phenomenon happens. I have decided to share the morphing process until I receive a notice that I am not allowed to use the sketch.

A Mini Rex rabbit with a regular snout/muzzle.

A Mini Rex rabbit with a regular snout/muzzle. Long and pointy ears too!

A stumpy Holland Lop with short snout/muzzle. Short and rounded ears to adhere to standards.

A stumpy Holland Lop with short snout/muzzle. Short and rounded ears to adhere to standards.

Here are the morphs (Please click on image to see animation):-

Skull structure change through selective breeding to adhere to standard:

SkullMorphOpt

Click on image to view animation.

Skull development towards Malocclusion:

SkullMorphMaloclusionOpt

Click on image to view animation.

I am not making any statement whether selective breeding is good or bad. The Holland Lop breed thrives in many locations with “good” temperature/climate. Malaysia at press time is 81 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius with the 89% humidity.

Is the Malaysia tropical climate suitable for the Holland Lop to be raised as is without any temperature control?

I believe that there are many approaches that can be taken.

1. Bring anything but Summer into your home. That means, you will need to simulate Autumn, Winter or Spring within your rabbits’ living quarters. Preferable Spring because that when most rabbits in the wild tend to be prolific.

2. Leave these rabbits where they truly belong. Anywhere but tropical climate.

3. Accept the fact that locally bred will eventually evolve into a different looking animal compared to its imported counterpart.

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Filed under Rabbit Genetics, Thoughts

Bunny Biology Part II

So the 2 different litters of bunnies continue to grow and the differences are quite apparent and obvious. At this point, genetics is playing a huge role in their physical appearances and it is very easy to identify which is has the potential to grow up as a promising show Holland Lop. Still there is no guarantee and we all know the story of ugly duckling.

At 12 days old. I can hardly hold the kit on the left with just one palm while the one of the right fits easily.

After 16 days. The kit on the left have a rounder head while the kit on the right is a little narrower. At this point, I prefer to have their ears still up but as can be seen here, the kit on the right has already started lopping.

It is rather interesting to observe closely the development of these youngsters. Having a smaller herd allows me to make better judgment and observation as I take the time to grow them out. Also, I get to learn more about the herd’s compatibility among the bucks and does.

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Filed under In The Nestbox, Rabbit Education, Rabbit Genetics

Bunny Biology

Biology is the word given to the study of living things and very often, we are unaware that throughout our lives, we have engaged in some form of biology work. I just realized that I have been working on Rabbit Biology since I more than 20 years ago. I believe getting to know the rabbit’s proper diet and other needs in itself can be considered a study of the animal.

Sometimes we study our pets alone and other times, we exchange notes with a fellow enthusiast as well. There is just so much to learn about rabbits that we all are unable to experience everything alone.

During one of our discussions and knowledge sharing sessions, a bunny friend told me that he was able to see “promising rabbits” on the day it is born. I have come across this statement from the past but I was still surprised by his statement. It was indeed a revelation hearing such comments. Later did I find out that it is not difficult to identify the “X-Factor” in newborn bunnies. I learned that you only need to spend enough time observing, just like any other studies done on other animals. Observation remain a large part of conservation efforts throughout the world. We must first gather as much information as we can through observation.

With all the resources I have at hand, I embarked on a journey to proof this concept. I also hope that this post will act as a proof of concept regarding the matter of Genetics (not Genesis but FYI, they are all on Genesis feed).

We are often told that a good Buck makes a lot of difference in a breeding program. My observation actually tells me that a good Doe is also an important part of the equation.

My journey started with breeding the same buck to two different does. When they share the same due date, I will be able to get kits of the same age to perform an apple to apple observation.

I chose Tru-Luv’s Miracle to be the buck in question and the does are Tru-Luv’s Sibylla & Tru-Luv’s Byss. The good thing about this combination is that, Miracle is related to Sibylla on his sire side and is related to Byss on his dam side. In other words, they are compatible based on papers.

In case you do not know how they look like, here are their pictures:

Tru-Luv’s Miracle

Tru-Luv’s Byss

The outcome of the breedings are 2 kits from each of the does. I have chosen one from each litter for the comparison.

Byss’ kit

Sibylla’s kit

At this moment, it is quite obvious that Sibylla’s kit is a little narrow compared to Byss’ kit. Byss’ kit look slightly chunkier than Sibylla’s kit.

Then I proceeded to take the head shots of both of these kits.

Byss’ kit

Sibylla’s kit

Looking at the shapes drawn in red and blue, we can see that Sibylla’s kit has a narrower muzzle compared to Byss’ kit. And there is a slight difference in the head shapes on both of them as well.

Honestly, there are still young and I will not make a concrete conclusion out of my observation so far. Their physical appearance will change drastically as time goes by. There are just so many factors to consider before we make a final conclusion. Genetics are so diverse and tricky in nature.

We shall continue with this observation from time to time. I shall keep everyone posted with pictures as well.

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Filed under Bucks, Does, In The Nestbox, Rabbit Education, Rabbit Genetics

What’s the difference?

I shall try to answer the following questions in this post:-

1) Why pedigree rabbits raised in Malaysia look different from those raised in UK or USA?

2) What is selective breeding?

3) What is natural selection?

Recently, a fellow rabbit enthusiast asked why there is a vast difference in the appearance of Netherland Dwarfs in Malaysia compared to those in the USA and UK. Even those imported tend to look different after a while living in Malaysia.

The question brought back memories when I first started raising imported Holland Lops. When shown a photo of a Holland Lop, the first question a colleague of mine (who have no interest at all in the rabbit hobby) asked was whether the climate/weather here in Malaysia is suitable. An optimistic me at that point of time confidently said yes because I am a strong believer that genetics alone governs every living being. It is a very good question simply because weather is one of the factor that governs adaptability. The topic of weather was also raised during a visit by a breeder friend a few years back. I was still very optimistic and adamant about my stand that genetic is still the main determining factor. But of course, the thought has always been lingering at the back of my mind and I have always been open to the possibilities.

Another thing that needs to be considered is the natural food chain. Rabbits fall under the lower level of the food chain as they are prey animals. That is the reason why they have higher reproduction rate to increase the chances of survival. Reproduction rate is not the only way prey animals increase their chances of survival of the species. They must also be highly adaptive to their surroundings, climate and weather included!

I would like to start off this “proof of concept” post by looking at another species in the animal kingdom. We know that dogs are one of the domesticated animals that has been around for a very long time. To date, there are more than 150 different dog breeds registered under the American Kennel Club. Why do we have so many different breed of dogs? The answer is simple. They not only come from different parts of the world but they all have different functions or usages. Some as guard dogs, gun dogs or just companion dogs. Every dog breed is said to be traced back to the wolf.

So how did we derive so many dog breeds from this…

A grey wolf. Picture taken from National Geographic (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/wolf/).

To this…

The Dachshund. Image taken from Dog Family (http://www.dogfamily.org/dachshund-5.html)

And to this?

The Chihuahua, smallest dog in the world. Picture by Katie Mancine.

From the wolf to the Chihuahua lies many years of Selective Breeding. In my own words, Selective Breeding means choosing to propagate a certain “desired” trait. For example, if smaller animals are desired, specimens exhibiting such traits are bred in order to reproduce more of the same kind. Those exhibiting unwanted traits will not be used in the breeding program.

Now let’s take a look at the rabbit species. The hare or wild rabbit can be seen as the root of which the domesticated rabbits originated from.

A Belgian Hare.  A rare breed and closest to the hare in the wild.

In between the Hare, and along the way we specially selected this…

Gimli the Dwarf Lord. Picture taken from the internet.

We did not breed Gimli into rabbits but we chose to breed more of the DWARF gene in the breeding program and produced the like of this…

A Netherland Dwarf rabbit. Picture courtesy of Chestnut Pictures.

And of course the Holland Lop…

A Holland Lop rabbit. Another well known dwarf breed.

Comparing between the Belgian Hare and the Holland Lop, one may ask how in the world can an animal with huge, long ears and long back feet be turned into one that has a rounded body with short and lopped ears?

As much as we like to tweak nature by using selective breeding, we are of no threat to Mother Nature. The #1 opponent of selective breeding is NATURAL SELECTION. Natural selection in my own words is when a living being changes its own characteristic(s) to thrive in different (extremes) environment. Rabbits as we all know regulate their body temperature through their ears since they have no means of sweating. The ears are where the major veins are and that helps bring temperature down.

Even with the dwarf gene, most Holland Lops bred locally in Malaysia tend to have longer ears.

A Holland Lop needs longer ears to keep itself cool?

Or is it?

Part of me tells me that genetics govern how large a rabbit should grow, how long their ears and large their heads should be. And part of me also tells me that being animal of prey, they need to be highly adaptable. The difference can be seen rather clearly in the next generation itself. In fact, the changes to external appearances can already be seen in the imports as well.

Look at the above picture carefully. The first picture was taken on the day this Netherland Dwarf arrived in Malaysia. The bottom left picture was taken after a few months living in Malaysia. The picture on the right with red dotted line shows what the rabbit lost after a few months living in Malaysia. The question is, what has the rabbit lost?

The answer is obvious, nothing but its fur! Without 20% of fur on its head, the ears suddenly look much longer and the muzzle looks narrower.

Can you see how fast an animal of prey needs to adapt in order to survive?

Do you see ladies dressing up in mink coats walking down Kuala Lumpur town? NO…

Do you see Siberian Huskies in Malaysia looking like those living in the Arctic? NO…

Will you find Polar Bears in the dessert? NO…

So I can safely conclude that we can never produce Holland Lop rabbits that are better than those in the USA unless like the penguins in their special temperature controlled enclosure (at Zoo Negara), we provide a simulated environment. The question is, should we produce air-conditioned rabbits here in Malaysia? Or should we allow natural selection to take its course and love our rabbits as they are?

As for me, I submit to the fact that weather and natural selection do play its role in changing the physical appearances of our rabbits. There is no way we can avoid that happening. But instead of providing a simulated environment, the best solution we have found lies in Genesis Ultra Premium Rabbit Food.

The weather plays a great role in the rabbit’s appetite. Besides from losing fur condition, our rabbits loose their appetite and thus, loses flesh condition at the same time. We can never force our rabbits to eat more when they do not want to. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. But before I divulge the details, allow me to tell you more about squirrels. We all know that squirrels are often found collecting seeds and food during spring time. The food stuff is consumed during the cooler days.

Even for humans, we tend to have better appetite while being in a cooler location. The steamboat dinner up in the highlands taste extra good and I even found myself eating larger portions at Indianapolis (Autumn/Fall).

Without air-conditioning, what can we do when our rabbits do not have appetite? They are of course thinner/leaner than we like them to be. Can we boost the energy content in their daily ration? How do we do that when they do not have the appetite in the first place? Feeding a diet that is too rich may upset their sensitive stomach.

This is where the Genesis Ultra Premium Rabbit food play its role to help keep our rabbits in better condition here in Malaysia. The Omega 3 & 6 is to help boost the coat condition. The only rabbit food in the market containing Omega 3 & 6. Genesis promotes healthy digestion through digestive enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics.

And remember that I mentioned that rabbits eat less due to decreased appetite in warmer condition?

That can be solved with Genesis Ultra Premium Rabbit food because it is formulated to promote optimal nutrient absorption! Which means, your rabbit gets all it needs nutritionally to thrive and bloom with a small portion of the food and without supplements. Eating less is exactly what is desired here. Ever heard of the saying “Less is more”?

Well, at least this is one of my proven findings working with imported rabbits for the past 5 years.

Don’t believe what I say, try it out today!

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Charlie & Megacolon

The case of Megacolon is on the rise as we speak because there has been an influx of homozygous spotted rabbits being produced in the market. And no, Megacolon is not the name of a Transformers robot. It is a digestive system disorder caused by genetic, the “En” gene to be exact.

In the Holland Lops, the English Spot (“En”) gene was introduced to produce the Broken pattern rabbits that we have today. When we breed two broken rabbits together, there are chances of us producing “charlies”. Charlies are mostly white with only a small amount of colored pattern and with an obvious Charlie Chaplin “mustache”.

Unfortunately, the Charlie phenomenon can happen to any breed of rabbits. A research paper regarding the relationship between Charlie rabbits and Megacolon has been written – Pathophysiological and functional aspects of the megacolon-syndrome of homozygous spotted rabbits, by Bödeker et al.

As we know anything that is caused by genetics cannot be cured. I am not a medical expert but I believe that if the rabbit has difficulties absorbing certain nutrients that it needs, perhaps feeding food that assists in absorption may be able to help.

Our initial experiment on a rabbit with Megacolon by feeding it Genesis Ultra Premium rabbit food has yield a positive result. We are getting less irregular sizes poop which is an indication that there has been better food absorption.

Here are some photos of poop indicating that a rabbit is suffering from Megacolon:

Poop in irregular sizes is one of the symptoms of Megacolon

Huge poop

Irregular and sometimes foul smelling

Charlie marked rabbits can be very cute because they do look like little panda bears when they are young. That is the reason why many people have developed a liking for them not knowing that they are potential time bombs.

My advice is, try to avoid breeding two Broken patterned rabbits.

This is an example of Charlie marked rabbit:

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Filed under Rabbit Education, Rabbit Genetics

Pedigree Problems

First of all I would like to apologize for my long hiatus. I just realized that it has been a while since I wrote a punchy post filled with good information.

There has been a buzz lately surrounding two genetic problems – Split Penis & Malocclusion (Misaligned Teeth). While the former has no explanation, I would like to take some time to write about what I think about the latter. Malocclusion is most common in dwarf breeds like the Netherland Dwarf and Holland Lop.

Before I share my opinion as to why this phenomenon happens, I would like to share the following video:-

Although the video highlights the problems with pedigree dogs, I believe that it does apply to the rabbit hobby to a certain extent. Much has been said and written about selective breeding and the business of producing the perfect show rabbit. If you have the time please browse through the archives and my previous posts.

Why Malocclusion is common among the dwarf breeds?

I do not have a good picture of how Malocclusion looks like but here is the link to an example – http://furrybutts.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/bummer/

And here is a severe case – http://www.rabbit-vet.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/rabbit_malocclusion.jpg

My take on this issue is that, we are indeed changing the skull structure of these breeds. We want them ROUND! Just like the bulldog, when we breed for roundness, we are bound to get undershot jaw (Denoting or having a lower jaw that projects beyond the upper jaw).

Just like how the wild dogs or wolves are domesticated and selectively bred, the natural and wild characteristics of the rabbits has been drastically changed. From a long or narrow muzzled hare to the round “bulldoggish” face of the Holland Lop, these are the obvious physical changes brought about by selective breeding. The breed standard is a visualized blueprint of the physical manifestation desired in certain animals. Just like a vision we place ahead of us and taking actions to achieve it.

Genetics or Dietary?

Often times, this is a genetic issue and manifests itself very early in the rabbit’s life. It can be detected as early as 5 days. I always believe that if it occurs later in the rabbit’s life (after 2 years), it is most probably due to dietary problems. We all know that rabbit teeth grow constantly and the grinding motion through chewing helps in keeping the length of their teeth in check. Even narrow muzzled rabbits can develop malocclusion because they have not been chewing enough.

How often does this happen?

As much as we like to play God, we have no control over this matter except to avoid crossing two rabbits that has the history of such genetic problem.

What is the solution?

As a long term measure, some may opt for extraction of the affected teeth but if the situation is less severe, occasional filing can be done. Sometimes for mild cases, providing more chew toys or food that promotes chewing can be given to help the rabbit cope with the problem.

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Holland Lops available:

For inquiries, please email truluvrabbitry@gmail.com.

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A little something about Fuzzy Holland Lops

I know many are surprised to see a Fuzzy Holland Lop produced at Tru-Luv Rabbitry. As this is totally expected and not uncommon, I am sure some were taken aback and perhaps started doubting the purity of my Holland Lops. I believe Laurie Stroupe of The Nature Trail has written a very good article about the Fuzzy gene in Holland Lops – http://www.thenaturetrail.com/Holland-Lop-Fuzzy-Fur.htm.

Fuzztort the fuzzy HL!

Fluffy!

I really do hope that Fuzztort will be able to help someone here in Malaysia who is or interested in working with the American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) breed. As mentioned in Laurie’s article, though a Fuzzy Holland Lop can be shown as AFL, it should not be taken as a real AFL until a rabbit has 3 generations of AFL in its pedigree.

Fuzztort comes with a “Holland Lop” pedigree but is marked as a FUZZY HOLLAND LOP.

If you are interested in a Fuzzy Holland Lop as a pet or you think that Fuzztort can help you with your AFL development, please feel free to get in touch with me via email (truluvrabbitry@gmail.com).

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Filed under Juniors, Rabbit Genetics

Peanut (Revisited)

I have previously written about the effects of double dwarf genes in kits born of 2 dwarf carriers. Each parent contributes one dwarf gene to the kits and hence, all the mambo jambo.

Let’s take this a little further since I was about to reply to someone asking this question, I thought it would be best to share the information on the blog instead. But before I continue, I would like to stress that I hold no recognized certification in Animal sciences or whatsoever and what I share is mere knowledge acquired through research. Any experts out there are welcome to correct me if I am wrong.

The question was why Peanuts always end up dying.

The organ in question here is the Pituitary gland. The functions of the Pituitary gland are as follows:

* Growth
* Blood pressure
* Some aspects of pregnancy and childbirth including stimulation of uterine contractions during childbirth
* Breast milk production
* Sex organ functions in both men and women
* Thyroid gland function
* The conversion of food into energy (metabolism)
* Water and osmolarity regulation in the body
* Secretes ADH (antidiuretic hormone) to control the absorption of water into the kidneys
* Temperature regulation

I would just like to stress on the points that I have bold and underlined. The double dwarf gene causes the pituitary gland to be stunted/under developed/damage. And thus, without it functioning properly, the little kit is not able to grow properly.

Sometimes they suckle harder then their siblings but still end up dying. That is because they are unable to convert what they suckle into energy and thus, death ensues.

We all know that kits need help with keeping warm and that is the reason why mommy will always pull fur and make a warm nest. They start off having no control over their body temperature and the fur keeps them alive. With peanuts, they are unable to regulate their body temperature although a warm nest is provided. The cost of death mostly for peanuts is the failure to regulate their body temperature.

Hope that helps in answering the question of peanuts.

So does that mean, “Give monkeys, get peanuts?” or “Give peanuts, get monkeys?”.

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What Does It Really Mean Breeding The Best

We have heard it a million times. Breed closely to the standard of perfection. That is just about a very small percentage of what breeding the best is all about. Breeding closely to the SOP is just in the form of outlook as in how a rabbit should look like on the exterior. Ever wonder about the inside?

Even the famous computer manufacturer would want you to know what’s INSIDE right? That’s why you see the I*tel Inside whenever you purchase a computer. That’s because as nice as the exterior looks, your computer should have the substance to help you browse through Facebook in the speed of light. LOL!

The quality of rabbits do not depend on the type of food given or how well they are groomed or conditioned. Everything lies in GENETICS. With good genetics you get resilient, tough and very healthy rabbits. And how far are we trying to achieve this? You’ll be surprised if I say to the point where the rabbits can be champs eating junk pellets. Yes, that is exactly what good breeders are trying to do. The rabbits should be as good inside out!

There are many diseases that a bunny owner fear. We often hear about the silent killer called G.I. Stasis and others similar deadly problems in our rabbits. These are but a few problems that has not been bred out. I believe very much that well bred rabbits should be free from it should be the priority of breeders to get strong rabbits.

If you think about it, it totally make sense because if you breed something that heavily depends on let’s say a certain brand of food, what happens if the rabbit goes to a place where it is impossible to get hold of the same brand? It will certainly not thrive. Therefore, adaptability must also be a trait breeders strive for in their breeding programme.

It may sound cruel to discard the weak but if we think hard, it is totally necessary. For example, I am sure most of us like our lamb chops in certain texture. If the farm produces lambs with bad flesh, most likely it will cease to exist. And likewise, you wouldn’t be patronizing products from it as well just because you want the farm to continue its operations.

When we start off producing the best, in the long run we get to minimize out input and still maximize the output. That is what it means to breed the best. We minimie in terms of labor attending to sick animals, minimize medication and also the mortality rate. With that, our products are of quality.

With that said, there are may factors to determining quality in everything. We have been emphasizing the importance of Hay in our rabbits’ diet. It is not wise for us to go to the extreme of feeding our rabbits just hay and at the same time, it is also not wise for us to go to the extreme of feeding just pellets as well. But for now, I would like to touch on the topic of hay.

I believe we all know that hay comes in season. They are harvested in different seasons and that determines the quality of the hay as well. Same species of hay planted and harvested at different times may yield different results in terms of quality. It is said that most hay that are harvested during Autumn have the best quality.

So what actually determines the quality of hay and how do we judge as consumers. There are generally 5 determining factors namely time of harvest, the leaf & stem ratio, color of the hay, the smell of the hay and the presence of foreign objects (I once found a huge locust in my bundle of hay). Four out of five points that I have listed above could be ascertain by the consumer. It is quite difficult for us to determine the time of harvest unless we have seen how the hays from different harvest times look like.

Hay with a lot of leafs on thin or fine stems are considered as good hay harvested at good time. I am sure some of us have had the experience of getting a bag of alfalfa filled with thick stems with little leafs.

Fresh hay should be brigh green in color (though some are known to have been dyed). If your hay is light golden yellow, most probably it has been sun bleached and this reduces palatability and carotene. Still, it can be used nonetheless. Dark brown, black and brown hay should be avoided as these may be indication of rain damage or heat damage. Heat damaged hays are brown in color because of microbial (mold) growth. It means that the hay has gone moldy.

The smell of hay is another good indication of its freshness and I am sure this can be easily sensed.

And of course foreign objects can determine the quality of hay. Having poisonous plants in the packet of hay is highly undesirable while getting a locust in the hay may be an indication that it is so good that the locust can’t resist it (no scientific evidence on the latter though and the rest are sheer common sense).

Our rabbits has been domesticated for many years and to emulate their wild cousin in captivity would be something quite ridiculous. Little or more, we should believe in that there could be a slight alteration in their digestive system. And another factor to consider is that, we will never be able to stimulate the natural form of diet in captivity. Thus, we have pellets to balance things up. Pellets are of course made of hay. If you have researched on the way rabbit pellets are made, you should know that basically alfalfa is being grinded into fine powder, added to fillers and more materials to form the pellets. In feeding pellets, we can be sure that our rabbits are able to consume nutrients in a consistent manner unlike being dependant on hays which varies in quality based on the determining factors discussed earlier.

But of course, it is undeniable hay works in more ways than providing nutrients. They also act as roughage and helps in keeping our rabbits’ teeth short through the chewing process.

Coming back to the point of breeding the best, what I can say is that, the food does not and should not make the rabbits but, it matters what the rabbits make out of the food.

Lastly, I would like to share with you a story told to me by a dear friend I call Keat. It was told to him by a farmer.

Once upon a time, there was a shepherd with his flock of sheep. One of his newborn lamb is not doing well. He can hardly walk and his mama sheep rejects him. So old shepherd gave it a shot of whiskey. Sure enough, the lamb got stronger. The shepherd didn’t mind cos he now has a drinking buddy. Come time for slaughter, that weak lamb is not the biggest & the friendliest. So he survived the trip to the stockyard. Next year, all the lambs are sired by this handsome ram.

Shepherd now realized, he got nothing but a whole flock of whiskey drinking sheep. So, moral of the story….

We all have whiskey lamb for dinner! LOL…

That was my version of the moral to the story.

The real moral of the story is, the shepherd has bred weak genetics into his flock. They can’t survive without Whiskey!

And how true it is…

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Filed under Rabbit Genetics, Random Topics